Cannes Lions

The Unwearable Collection

AREA 23, AN IPG HEALTH NETWORK COMPANY, New York / BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM / 2022

Awards:

1 Bronze Cannes Lions
5 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

GPP is a rare skin condition, but it’s potentially deadly. Within two hours, GPP can cause pustules (open wounds) to erupt all over a patient’s body and require urgent hospitalization. Because it’s so rare, Dermatologists are not familiar with its consequences and are not used to managing such a severe condition. The full extent of this harrowing disease and how it affects patients is vastly misunderstood.

Boehringer Ingelheim is preparing to launch a product to treat GPP. It’s critical for them to raise awareness among Dermatologists of this deadly disease, build empathy for suffering patients, and teach them more about the disease. While it is common for pharmaceutical companies to communicate with physicians about a disease, these campaigns are usually boring and highly scientific.

We needed an experience that could stand out amongst the noise and appeal to Dermatologists, who are less scientific and more attuned to beauty and aesthetics.

Idea

Boehringer Ingelheim partnered with internationally renowned fashion designer Bart Hess, whose work includes designs for Lady Gaga, to teach Dermatologists about the devastating nature of GPP. The Unwearable Collection: a fashion gallery inspired by real patients’ experiences with GPP.

Bart translated the painful words of real patients into four uncomfortable outfits using unconventional materials. To convey the pain of isolation, he used shards of broken plexiglass and mirrors, representing social isolation and shattered identity. For the life-threatening nature of the disease, he bolted together hundreds of knives and over 2,000 razor blades to resemble a deadly snake suffocating the wearer. To represent the intensity of a flare, he twisted and melted red charred foil, reflecting a sudden flare overtaking the body. And for physical pain, he cut over 10,000 razor sharp pieces of paper.

“A clothing line no one would dare to wear, but those with GPP have no choice.”

Strategy

Through research with Dermatologists, we collected insights about their level of knowledge and attitudes about GPP. We found there was very low understanding of it. Most Dermatologists treat GPP like other more common, but less severe forms of psoriasis. However, those treatments are very ineffective for people with GPP and patients continue to suffer.

We needed Dermatologists to fully understand that GPP is a unique disease that’s very different from other types of psoriasis both in terms of the potentially deadly consequences and the way it affects nearly every aspect of their life.

We created an experience around fashion that appeals to Dermatologists’ inherent inclination for aesthetics and beauty. We knew simply delivering medical information would not break through the noise. The fashion gallery lured visitors in with beautiful designs and then educates them about the experiences of GPP patients through haute couture they can’t look away from.

Execution

The Unwearable Collection premiered March 2022 at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meeting, the world’s biggest dermatology convention. Prior to event, a teaser film was sent to attendees. The exhibition was a couture fashion gallery that stood in stark contrast to the surrounding, more clinical booths. The gallery proudly displayed Bart’s four creations along with information about the disease, a brief description of each piece, and the real patient quote on which it’s based.

The full film was featured, which documented the creation of the Unwearable Collection, as well as the experiences of patients who inspired the designs. Visitors were invited to view each outfit up close and engage live with Bart Hess.

QR codes within the event drove visitors to a disease education website that gives more information about GPP.

A limited-edition pictorial look-book with photos by fashion photographer Juliana Rocha was created to commemorate the collection.

Outcome

The Unwearable Collection was a success at AAD in Boston. Boehringer Ingelheim’s booth was the most visited at the convention, with long lines to enter and experience the event.

The campaign is generating media interest and helping Boehringer Ingelheim to be seen as an innovator in dermatology. Surface Magazine, an art and fashion trade magazine outside the healthcare space, featured the collection and called it “avant-garde” work. Fierce Pharma, a website covering pharma and healthcare, called it “bold.”

Of 7,000 Dermatologists who attended the convention, 2,500 registered at the booth, providing new, qualified leads that were added to the company’s CRM database. This represented a 185% increase over the goals that were set at the outset of the project. The booth and collateral materials utilized QR codes to drive attendees to the company’s disease education website to learn more, which experienced a 325% increase in web traffic.

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